Hosting 102

Gold compass sitting on a wooden window sill.

If you’ve read our Hosting 101 post, then you know that we recommend WPEngine or Flywheel for business websites. But if you want to know why we recommend these two above all others, as well as find out how to ensure that you are getting the best WordPress hosting for your price point and learn what makes for a great hosting plan, then it’s time for Hosting 102!

We have worked with all kinds of WordPress hosting companies on behalf of our clients, and have a gleaned a lot of knowledge about what makes a truly great host. (Hint—it’s more than just price.)

 

Security

The number one priority for most businesses when picking a hosting company is security. Your host controls the server where your website is stored, and servers that are not well protected can fall prey to hackers. There are a few different types of hosting, listed here from least to most secure:

Shared Hosting: You share a server with other websites. This means that a hacker may be able to access the server from one of the other websites and see your website’s data.

Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting: You share a server with other websites, but it is partitioned and your portion is separate. While you don’t technically have your own server, the shared server is setup in such a way that it mimics having your own server.

Dedicated Hosting: You have your own server for your website. No other websites are hosted on the same server as yours, which means less people have access to your files and data and all of the resources of the server are focused on your website.

Note that the term “managed WordPress hosting” sometimes means dedicated hosting, but it could refer to any of these types of hosting. It’s important to talk to your hosting company to ensure you know what you are getting with a specific “WordPress hosting” offering.

Ask your host: What type of hosting do I have and what security measures are in place? What will you do for me if my server is hacked?

Reliability

You don’t want your website to go down for large chunks of time unpredictably because of server issues. This can happen if your website is not hosted on a server equipped to handle the amount of traffic you receive or for any number of other problems which may come up with your server.

Ask your host: Should I expect any downtime with this hosting plan, and will you alert me if my website is down unexpectedly?

Backups

Picture this: You hire a new employee who accidentally deletes the homepage of your website while trying to add a new photo. What do you do?

The peace of mind that comes from knowing your website is routinely backed up and you can access that backup if anything happens to your content or database is priceless. Here’s the really important part—website backups need to be stored on a separate server from your live site. This is often called an “off-site” backup. With routine off-site backups, you know that should your site’s server get hacked, you can retrieve a copy of it safely and quickly.

It’s not necessary for your host to provide routine off-site backups, but it’s certainly a plus and it’s one of the factors that influences the price point of quality hosting.

Ask your host: Are backups included in my hosting plan? How often are backups taken and where are they stored?

Staging

Have you ever edited something on your live site, and suddenly created three problems that weren’t there before? Sometimes it can be hard to predict how website changes and updates will affect the existing code, especially if you are redesigning or adding new functionality.

For important site changes, our team uses a what’s called a “staging environment” to test and tweak your website’s code. This is a copy of the exact setup your live site uses which allows us to get everything pixel perfect before adjusting the live site. Most hosts offer staging environments, but some will charge extra for you to add one to your account.

Ask your host: Is a staging site included with my hosting plan?

SSL Certificate

An SSL certificate shows that your website is secure and ensures that browsers do not block your website. As of 2018, every website should have an SSL certificate and most WordPress hosting companies offer them. That being said, some hosts offer their SSL certificates as paid add-ons, while others include them with the price of hosting. When comparing prices, it’s important to ensure that you aren’t missing important features!

Ask your host: Is an SSL certificate included with my hosting plan?

Support

Finally, we think that having a 24/7 support team who are easy to access, knowledgeable, and pleasant to speak with at your hosting company is imperative. Inevitably, there will come a time when your website has an issue, and whether that issue is major or minor, knowing that you have a team you can trust to help you fix it quickly will make a huge difference in the process.

Ultimately, we believe that the world is made a better place when you focus on your genius work, and not on website problems. This requires that you have the right team in place. Your web developer (that’s us!) and your hosting company are each a part of the puzzle, and having stellar support teams in both places allows you to focus on the work that grows your impact and your business.

Ask your host: Do you offer 24/7 support and how will I be able to reach you?

 

These are some of the important considerations when choosing a WordPress hosting company. We know that some of the technical parts of setting up a website can be confusing and overwhelming, and we are here to help! If you are upgrading your hosting plan and need your site migrated or if you have questions about your hosting plan, just reach out to our support team.

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credits

Created with Sketch.

Michelle Viljoen

(website design) is a graphic designer and brand consultant who specializes in creating and developing brands. Her core focuses are logo development, website design and brand direction.

Jane Reaction

(logo and original branding) is a graphic design and art director who works with with small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, creating cohesive and interesting brands and websites.

Carrie Coleman

(photography) is a wedding photographer, whose goal is to capture the visual expression of a couple's love through timeless, organic images. She is based in Charlottesville, Virginia.